The UK Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has called on the rail industry to do more for its disabled passengers after revealing the results of its annual rail consumer report

While the ORR recognised an improvement in overall customer satisfaction with accessing assistance, it found a third of wheelchair users did not receive all the assistance they had booked. 

Stephanie Tobyn, director of strategy, policy and reform at ORR said: “Our research shows that there are still too many instances where assistance fails and when this happens, the impact on disabled passengers can be significant, creating unnecessary anxiety and frustration.” 

“Operators must continually focus their effort on providing reliable and consistent assistance and we will be working with the rail industry and passenger groups on… this.” 

The survey of more than 8,100 passengers found that there was a high level of satisfaction (94%) with the process to book assistance, with the assistance itself at 95%. 

However, the ORR also discovered that 8% of passengers reported receiving none of the assistance they had booked, though this is down from 11% last year. 

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By GlobalData

Though recognising the work that still needs to be done, the ORR partially attributed the overall rise in satisfaction to the progress seen in delivering disability awareness training to rail staff. 

The regulatory body also highlighted the success of Scotrail’s new ramp policy, which had been criticised by the ORR for lacking a maintenance and inspection schedule, resulting in ramps being left in poor conditions. 

However, the consumer report highlighted the implementation of a new policy to maintain ramps at the 50 stations with the highest ramp usage as well as carrying ramps on trains so they can be deployed at other stations. 

In addition to reporting on passenger assistance satisfaction, the annual report also asked more than 29,000 people about their experience of making complaints to UK rail operators. 

The ORR report comes after it made a series of calls for improvement to Network Rail and rail operators, including a demand for more to be done on the backlog of structural examinations on the UK rail network and its critique of the decline in train reliability in December. 

Additionally, a draft assessment of Network Rail’s five-year plan published last month said more could be done to renew core assets and accounting for future risk, though the ORR did praise the organisation for its delivery against government priorities.